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Smart Transport from a politician’s perspective – Part II

Dr Ladyman speaking about road safety

This is the second of a series of blogs by Dr Stephen Ladyman on the subject of ‘smart transport’ written from ‘a politicians’ perspective. Politicians need solutions to the real problems faced by citizens and need those solutions to be affordable, scalable and likely to win the approval of local people.

Stephen was an IT Manager before becoming an MP and ultimately the Minister of State for Transport and he will use these blogs in the weeks ahead to show how smart transport systems can deliver real benefits that citizens will appreciate and elected officials will support.

The 10 elements of the ‘smart city’

Of the ten elements of the smart city, ‘smart transport’ stands alone. Infrastructure, Public Safety, Green Buildings, Education, Citizen Services, Healthcare, Energy, Water and Waste are all sectors that would benefit from the application of ‘smart technologies’ and a solid case can be made for investment in each of them.

Elemens of a Smart City

The case for investment in ‘smart transport’ is more immediate and more clear-cut: smart transport systems offer an unrivalled opportunity to engage the Citizen and deliver those essential political benefits I talked about in my last blog.

Smart priorities on a local level

So what are the questions that political leaders will be asking when deciding what their local ‘smart’ priorities will be?

First, do we need to use public funds to push this element of the smart city forward? If the economic benefits will largely benefit the private sector, then can we let the private sector foot the bill? Can’t we let the water and energy companies fund water and energy projects?

Should some other part of the public sector pay for this element of the wider agenda – shouldn’t healthcare projects be paid for by ring-fenced funds already set aside for healthcare or by the NHS, and education projects be paid for from dedicated education funds?

Are the benefits of the project immediate and obvious both for the local economy and for individual citizens? Is the solution being offered ‘essential’ or just ‘desirable’?

Is the technology needed to drive a particular sector forward available now, or is it still a twinkle in a tech company’s eye? Can I start small and build up? Is the initial buy-in affordable? And when it is all delivered, will the voters notice and appreciate the effort, or will they see it as having delivered a benefit for ‘someone else’?

And after they have been through this checklist, I am willing to bet that front and centre on their short list is road transport.

A better understanding of smart city information networks for continuous improvement and future investment

The technology and expertise to improve traffic flow, encourage modal shift and make a real difference to the efficiency of local business and the quality of life for local people is available now.

Not only that, but you probably have some of the information streams in place already and adding new sources of data and turning it into useful information for the citizen can be done easily.

You can start in a small way in an area of the city with particular problems, and build up the information network as funds allow. If you don’t have the capital to buy the hardware, then Clearview Traffic will install the kit and you can buy the data instead.

You can also tick several boxes with one ‘smart mobility’ project.

An improvement to road safety also cuts health bills. A transport solution that encourages modal shift not only reduces congestion it offers environmental benefits as well. Traffic jams are great sources of pollution, flowing traffic means happier drivers and cleaner air.

When roads flow better not only are commuters happier, but business costs are reduced too.

And as I argued in my last blog, transport solutions that engage and empower citizens will be appreciated by citizens. Improving traffic flows and making the daily commute more comfortable helps to win elections and politicians are well aware of the fact.

To find out more about Clearview Traffic’s work in line with the Smart Cities concept, please visit here.

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